Got some old wood? We’d love to give it new life.
Do you know that old IKEA cupboard that you wasted recently? Chances are it would have played beautifully, if turned into a guitar body. Or at least pretty decent. Most wood – especially soft woods – has actually a nice timber. Now there are parts of the guitar (i.e. the neck) that are better if made with hard wood – but it boils down to the hard wood being… well, hard – steady, stable (doesn’t deform that easily – a curved neck plays less well…) and resistant (can hold the weight of the strings without cracking). But for a body this is less important. I read somewhere that even Leo Fender’s first Telecaster production had a Pine (soft wood) body, but eventually those were ‘budget’ guitars and were being mistreated – especially if painted/finished, soft wood can easily get dents – and customers were returning them. So that’s really the reason why the hard wood became also used for bodies.
But for a piece of art that you’ll treat well, I made a couple of guitars with both American Pine and Cedar (both soft woods) and they sound amazing.
This concept is also what inspired the name ‘Plank’ – when, for my first guitar build, I used just a plank of some wood that was left forgotten by my landlord in his garage, years ago. If this sounds well – I thought – any plank can.
In general, whatever wood you have lying around could potentially be good for a body – less so for a neck – but it’s worth discussing it.
I love to reuse old furniture and the like and give it new life. You can also find things like old wooden floors – those are typically hard wood, flat, and great for fret boards.
Below you can see some molds for Cigars that I have used to build Diddly Bows (read more on the Cigar Box guitar page):
There is also a social and political aspect to this – we live in a society that more and more and more just produces and ‘throws away’ stuff; it’s good if we can make our items live longer. You don’t always need the latest shiny thing to be happy! A plank with a string nailed on it could be enough to have fun!
Some of the guitars I build (especially Cigar box guitars) are perfectly suited for being 100% built off recycled materials (maybe excluding the electronics), and are much simpler to build and very ‘democratic’ (i.e. I can teach you how to build your own).
For this reason I also do repairs – if you guitar broke, it most likely can be fixed!
At the same time, I can also build completely custom instruments based on new designs – using partly recycled materials and a few new parts when appropriate.